Vice Chair, Board & CEO Services, Global Leader, CEO Succession Practice
This Week in Leadership (Nov 29 - Dec 5)
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If CEOs ask executives to grade leadership development efforts in their organization, they may be surprised, and somewhat disheartened, by what they learn.
When asked to assess the results of leadership development investments in their organizations, the majority of 7,500 respondents to a recent Korn Ferry survey rated them only “fair” to “very poor.”
Perhaps most surprising, and something of a wake-up call for CEOs, respondents cited “lack of executive sponsorship” as the chief roadblock to leadership development success. In other words, it seems that CEOs themselves are standing in the way of progress.
In addition, just 17% of respondents—one-fourth of whom were C-suite executives and about a third of whom were next-level executives—were confident their organizations had the right leadership capabilities in place to execute on strategic business priorities.
Bottom line: CEOs and other executives don’t feel that leadership development is generating tangible value, and likely because of a bottleneck that might be of their own making. The problem is not about investing financial resources—there’s plenty of that—but about ownership and accountability by the senior-most individuals.
If this message resonates with you, consider the following suggestions to promote rather than impede development efforts and reap the benefits.
Moreover, instilling a leadership development culture will almost certainly give you a leg up on your competition. Our research indicates that leadership development is one of the most under-utilized levers for strategic change and creating a strong employer brand.
To achieve desired results, leadership development must be led by the CEO, and top leadership must continually send direct messages about its importance, model the right behavior, and remain engaged every step of the way.
While Korn Ferry’s research may not come as welcome news, it does generate important insights with clear, concrete steps CEOs can take to succeed—steps that will increase the odds of success, improve ROI, and ensure that the CEO is not part of the problem, but rather is key to the solution.